Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Rescuing Kansas from Brownback

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Rescuing Kansas from Brownback

Article excerpt

It finally happened. Late Tuesday night, the Kansas Legislature voted to override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax deal. The third tax bracket has been reinstated, the grossly unfair exemption for 330,000 Kansas business owners has been gutted and Brownback's disastrous economic experiment has come to a dramatic end. Brownback may think the state has taken a "big step backwards," but Kansans know better -- although it took 109 days, lawmakers did what was necessary to halt our plunge into the fiscal abyss.

Let's review just how deep and dark that abyss is. After Brownback's 2012 tax cuts took full effect, our state's tax revenue plummeted from $6.3 billion in fiscal year 2013 to $5.6 billion the following year -- a $700 million drop. Since then, tax revenue has remained almost static, which means the state has been sacrificing hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Other states surpassed their pre-recession peaks in tax revenue (adjusted for inflation) years ago, but Kansas has yet to do so. Brownback and his defenders will tell you that the revenue shortfalls in Kansas were attributable to falling commodity prices, but losses in the oil, gas and agriculture sectors don't even come close to accounting for the billions of dollars we've forfeited.

And what do we have to show for it? Our economic growth hasn't kept pace with the rest of the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in Kansas has been slower and less consistent than in the rest of the Midwest since 2011. When Brownback took office, Kansas' unemployment rate was ranked ninth in the country -- now we're tied for 15th. From the beginning of 2014 to the end of 2016, the rate of job growth in Kansas actually fell. And the rate was increasing more quickly before the tax cuts went into full effect.

The costs of Brownback's reckless experiment are obvious, while the benefits are nowhere to be found. …

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